I’m a laptop reviewer and this is the best laptop with a CD drive — but there’s a catch

A Laptop Mag reader plucked at my heart strings when he emailed me asking me if I can help him find the best laptop with a built-in CD drive. But there’s one problem — you’ll be hard pressed to find a laptop with such an ancient feature in modern times. 

After all, they get in the way of laptop companies’ ultimate mission of making the slimmest, lightest laptops on the market. You think the LG Gram SuperSlim, the world’s thinnest laptop, could achieve such a feat with an optical drive inside? Not a chance! Plus, there’s very little need for CD drives nowadays — everything can be downloaded and streamed digitally.

LG Gram SuperSlim (Image credit: Future)

However, I know that there are some people, including my father, who have extensive CD-based music collections and stacks of DVDs that they’d love to play on their laptop. Although I’ve tried to tell my dad, a man who turns his nose up at the abandonment of internal CD drives, that he can just plug in an external CD drive, he wasn’t having it. “I don’t want to have to constantly plug in and plug out an external CD drive — I want it baked in, damn it!”

As such, I had a bit of a soft spot for the Laptop Mag reader who reached out to me. “Sure, I can help you,” I replied. I knew deep down in my soul that I was about to go run a fool’s errand, but an optimistic side of me thought, “You know what? Maybe there is a laptop somewhere that has a CD drive; I’m just not looking hard enough.”

So I reached out to all of my laptop contacts: HP, Dell, MSI, ASUS, Acer, and Lenovo. Let me give you a rundown of their responses.

What happened when I asked 5 laptop companies about their most recent laptops with CD drives? 

MSI told me that it stopped selling laptops with CD drives in 2016 — that’s eight years ago! As such, the most recent optical drive-packed laptops you can get from MSI are the GE72VR and the GT72VR laptops. They’re so old, they have 7th Gen Intel Core processors. Meanwhile, the chipmaker is currently churning out 13th Gen CPUs. Yikes!

MSI GE62VR (Image credit: Future)

In fact, Laptop Mag happened to review the GE72VR — and it has longer battery life than I expected for an old-school gaming laptop: 3 hours and 9 minutes. We gave it three stars; we loved its comfortable keyboard, loud speakers, and lightweight design, but despised its dim, dull display. If you don’t mind taking a risk in buying a laptop in secondary markets, I found a GE72VR on eBay for $600. (opens in new tab)

My Dell PR contact found my hunt to be quite amusing seeing as he still carries around a disc wallet and an external DVD drive for trips, but unfortunately, he told me told me that Dell hasn’t rolled out a laptop with a built-in CD drive in recent years — and he’s sorry that he can’t be of more help. Asus and HP responded similarly. 

Lenovo didn’t reply at all.

Acer’s response, on the other hand, was particularly interesting because the PR rep shared that the last CD drive-packed Acer laptop series to hit the market was the Aspire E 15 line, which hit store shelves in 2018 and continued to be available in 2019.

As an interesting tidbit, the PR rep added that the last gaming-focused Acer notebooks with CD drives were sold in 2017. Interestingly, at IFA 2018 (a Europe-based tech trade show), Acer announced that it was launching a new Aspire 3 line with DVD drives, but it was not sold in North America. It was, instead, rolled out to the European market.

What’s the best laptop with a CD drive you can get?

The best laptop with a CD drive you can get is the Acer Aspire 3 (opens in new tab). But considering that it doesn’t have any competition, that’s not saying much.

Acer Aspire 3 with DVD drive (Image credit: Walmart)

Still, if CD drives are important to you, and you don’t mind snagging a five-year-old laptop, the Aspire 3 appears to be the most recent laptop you can get. Where can you buy it? Well, after doing a deep dive with Google Search, I miraculously found one at Walmart for $659.00. (opens in new tab) Check out its specs below:

Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPUIntel UHD graphics8GB of RAM1TB of HDD storageWindows 10 (with free upgrade to Windows 11)A 17.3-inch, 1600 x 900-pixel display

You should also consider the Acer Aspire E 15. Luckily for you, Laptop Mag reviewed it.

Acer Aspire E 15 (Image credit: Future)

At the time, it had a starting price of only $307.99. (You can buy it now on eBay for half the price at $150 (opens in new tab)). Despite its low price tag, it lasted nearly 9 hours on a charge, which — surprisingly — is a lot longer than some laptops we’ve reviewed in 2023 (ahem, I’m looking at you Acer Swift Edge and your 7-hour battery life). It also delivered strong performance scores and offered a great variety of ports, including a USB 2.0 port, a headphone jack, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, an Ethernet port, a VGA input, an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a Kensington lock slot. It’s got an SD card reader, too!

Other specs the Aspire E 15 packs:

8th Gen Intel Core CPUIntel UHD Graphics 6206GB of RAMUp to 1TB of storageA 15.6-inch, 1080-pixel display with a 16:9 aspect ratio

It’s quite heavy, too. It weighs over 5 pounds and has dimensions of 15 x 10 x 1.19 inches.

Acer Aspire E 15 (Image credit: Future)

And of course, the Aspire E 15 comes with the highly desired 8X DVD-RW double-layer drive. In an old reviewer’s guide I managed to uncover, Acer said, “the 8X DVD is a feature that isn’t as prevalent on notebooks in 2018, but still in demand by PC users who want access and save media on DVDs and CDs.”

Keep in mind that both laptops — the Acer Aspire 3 and the Aspire E 15 — have obsolete internals. You’d be better off getting a zippy, high-performing, au courant laptop off our best laptops page and hooking up an external DVD drive.

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